Emergency root canal treatment in White River saves leopard


An extraordinary interprovincial collaboration between veterinary surgeons and dental fraternity surgeons, the Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA), and conservation-minded individuals, narrowly saved a young leopard’s life in town on Sunday morning.

When the WMU received a juvenile male leopard that had been caught in an expanded metal cage last week, they soon discovered the young cat’s life was threatened.

In his desperate attempts to escape the razor-wired cage, the leopard had broken all four of his canines that were now exposed down to the roots, leaving him in excruciating pain.

The groundbreaking collaboration – between the WMU, MPTA, Pretoria-based root canal specialists Advanced Endodontics (AE), Transformational Dentistry (TD) and Wildlifevets in White River – was brilliantly brought together by Yolanda Botha of Wright Millners Dental Suppliers in Midrand.

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Botha arranged for AE’s top endodontic specialists Sheree Tredoux and Glynn Buchanan to travel from Gauteng to White River to assist local veterinarians Chris Smith and Hayden Cuthill of Wildlifevets in the complex procedure.

Finally, and crucially, TD’s Cobus Verster completed the extraordinary team by providing the surgery facilities – usually reserved for human patients – where the emergency procedure took place.

“The pulp at the center of all four of the leopard’s canines was exposed, causing major pain and making it impossible for him to eat. The surgery took two hours and was completely successful,” Verster said.

“He was a juvenile, so luckily these were still his primary teeth. The canines will grow back, but this amazing interprovincial team definitely saved his life.”

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The MTPA’s Gait-Jan Sterk confirmed the leopard has been returned to a predator holding facility for recovery, and will be monitored for a while to allow his body condition to improve.

“He will then be released onto one of the MTPA nature reserves with a satellite collar to track his movements,” he said.

“It took so many very generous people from outside and within our province to save this animal. Without community involvement, enormous generosity, and the help of incredible people like Yolanda Botha, we would never have saved this animal. It shows how important the public can be in the conservation of iconic species.”

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